My current fixation with the English language and its ever astonishing vocabulary continues to amaze me. This time, thankfully not due to Mr. Tharoor (I'm getting a grip on myself now after reading Sawan's comment in the previous post :D).
I was reading MANORAMA YEARBOOK (2009 edition) today. One of the pages had this footer titled "A New Word Every 98 minutes". On reading it further, I found out that the English language was set to reach its 1 Millionth word by April 2009 (which just went by). Apparently, a new English word is created every 98 minutes and as at the time of printing the compilation (MANORAMA YEARBOOK) in late 2008, the word count stood at 995,844.
I decided to google and try to get behind this story and enlighten myself a little bit.
So who exactly is keeping the count?? The answer is: A company called The Global Language Monitor based in Austin, Texas which keeps an eye on the use of languages, English primarily, and monitors frequent changes to the same. I mean seriously, that's an actual company and that's an actual job!!!
But how can one be so certain that English doesn't already have a million words? After I read Mr. Tharoor, I wondered how many million words in English am I not aware of? And what exactly is the yardstick for constituting a "word"?
There are several dictionaries available in the market: Oxford, Merriam Websters etc. The Unabridged versions of these put the tally of words anywhere between 450,000 to 650,000. Both of them contain certain disputable terms. For instance: "OK" or "ain't". I remember I had used "ain't" while writing an essay in class 11 English paper and was promptly summoned by my English teacher: "You're writing English, not "Smriti's English"."
A lot of controversy surrounds this claim as many English words are often derived from other languages, and hence there is noise in a few quarters about the genuiness of these words. Some people have also claimed that English might have already passed that figure.
Whatever might be the case, my knowledge of words in English language stands at a few thousand perhaps. Meanwhile, The Global Language Monitor website has installed a countdown anticipating the 1 Millionth Word to be inducted into the English Language on June 10th, 2009 at 10.22 AM.
So much fuss. I'm not complaining. I can't. I found something to blog about.
Oh, if you want to know, the words competiting for that prestigious 1 Millionth Spot are:
Apparently, the odds highly favour "NOOB" and it might just become word number 1 Million. I just hope there isn't an Anil Kapoor Clone around shouting out the 1 Millionth word followed by "Millllionaaare". I've had enough of the word "Million" for this lifetime at least.
And IF I had it my way, I'd let the 1 Millionth Word be "Baaaaaaaaah"!!!